, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 437-448

Mytilus species under rope culture in Scotland: implications for management

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Abstract

Mussel (Mytilus spp.) production is one of the most economically important aspects of global aquaculture and, in Scotland, production has increased from 262 t in 1986 to 4,219 t in 2006. Until recently, mussel production in Scotland was considered to be based exclusively on the blue mussel Mytilus edulis, the native species. In Europe, production is known to consist of M. edulis and M. galloprovincialis, while a third less profitable species M. trossulus occurs in the Baltic Sea, where it is unexploited. In Scotland, the sympatric occurrence of M. edulis, M. trossulus, M. galloprovincialis and their hybrids in cultivation in Loch Etive has recently been reported, with significant losses in production attributed to the presence of M. trossulus. Samples of mussels were taken at three depths from 10 rope-farm sites in Loch Etive. The distribution of the Mytilus species and their hybrids in Loch Etive was investigated using the Me 15/16 nuclear DNA locus for species and hybrid identification. All three species and their hybrids were detected and the data were in agreement with the Hardy–Weinberg model suggesting panmixia. Frequencies of M. galloprovincialis and its hybrids were very low. Overall, M. trossulus (37%) was found to be more common than M. edulis (30%) and 23% of the sampled mussels were M. trossulus × M. edulis hybrids. Species distribution did not correlate with year of settlement nor with salinities taken at the time of sampling. There were significant differences in species distribution due to site location and depth, with M. edulis being more frequent at 8 m depth and M. trossulus more common at shallower depths. These differences might be exploitable in management strategies for continuing production, for example to decrease the prevalence of M. trossulus at shellfish farms in favour of the more desirable M. edulis.